tv PBS News Hour PBS March 5, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: israeli prime minister netanyahu met with president obama today amid growing tension over nuclear enrichment in iran. good evening. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we assess what u.s. and israeli leaders are doing to try to narrow the gap on how to deal with iran's nuclear program. >> ifill: then we turn to the g.o.p. presidential race on the eve of super tuesday and take a look at the role the economy is playing in ohio. >> i'm very concerned about what is going on politically. i'm not sure what the economy is going to do. basically as we come through the election cycle.
>> woodruff: from moscow, margaret warner reports on the reaction to vladamir putin winning a third term as russia's president. >> warner: tens of thousands of russians angry over the elections took to the streets of moscow tonight. police detained demonstrators and prominent activists after they refused to leave the sight of an anti-government rally. >> ifill: and we close with an update on the deadly and devastating tornadoes that ravaged much of the south and midwest. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy, productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting.
and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: there was war talk in the air as president obama and the prime minister of israel, benjamin netanyahu, met today at the white house. their focus: what to do about iran's nuclear program. in public, in the oval office, in front of the cameras, the president and prime minister spoke of common threads and common interests. >> the united states will always have israel's back when it comes to israel's security. >> if there's one thing that stands out clearly in the middle east today, it's that israel and america stand together. >> ifill: but when it comes to the potential of an iranian nuke nuclear threat, the two leaders also signaled they do not yet see eye to eye on when and how to respond. the u.s. has argued for
increasingly tough economic sanctions against iran and stepped-up diplomacy. >> it is profoundly in the united states' interest as well to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. we do not want to see a nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world. >> ifill: but israel had the latitude to respond militarily. >> israel must have the ability always to defend itself by itself against any threat and that when it comes to israel's security, israel has the right, the sovereign right to make its own decisions. i believe that's why you appreciate, mr. president, that israel must reserve the right to defend itself. >> ifill: the barely concealed tension played out in private and public during the past several weeks. on sunday the president warned against loose talk of war in a speech to the american-israel public affairs committee or
apac. >> for the sake of israel's security, america's security and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster. now is the time to let our increased pressures sink in and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built. >> ifill: but in canada on friday netanyahu warned against letting iran stall for time. >> it could pursue or exploit the talks as they've done in the past to deceive and to delay so that they can continue to advance their nuclear program and get to the nuclear finish line by running the clock, running up the clock so to speak. and i think the international community should not fall into this trap. >> ifill: the iranians insist their program is for peaceful uses only. american officials have long dismissed that claim but in january james claper, the director of national intelligence said u.s. officials do not believe iran has yet decided to build a
bomb. today in vienna, the head of the u.n. nuclear agency said iran may be concealing its weapons work. >> the agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to iran's nuclear program. >> ifill: president obama pointedly said today he has not ruled out military action. >> my policy here is not going to be one of containment. my policy is prevention of iran obtaining nuclear weapons. as i indicated yesterday in my speech when i say all options are on the table, i mean it. having said that, i know that both the prime minister and i prefer to resolve this diplomatically. >> ifill: prime minister netanyahu will have more to say on the issue tonight when he addresses the apac conference. for more on the growing debate we turn to jeffrey goldberg of the atlantic magazine. he interviewed president obama. jamie fly who served on the
staff of george w. bush's national security council. he's now executive director of the foreign policy initiative. and james to bebins who tells various diplomatic posts of both the state department and the white house. jeff goldberg you had a 45- minute meeting with the president on this topic. after watching the conversation that happened after this meeting at the white house today, did the prime minister and the president get what they came for? >> i think that there's a 0% possibility that either man is going to leave these meetings getting all that he wanted. i think that the prime minister was coming to washington to get a level of specificity from the president. the president is not going to give him in terms of by what date will you attack iran if they don't cede to your requests and how and what are your red lines? the president indicated in many different ways that he's not going to provide that level of detail to anyone in
part because he doesn't know. and in terms of what the president wanted, the president wanted to communicate in broad terms to the prime minister as he said that he has israel's back. therefore, you, mr. prime minister, can stand down. you should not do anything premature or precipitous that could actually wind up emboldening or strengthening iran. i don't think the prime minister is ever going to promise an american president that he will, from the prime minister's viewpoint, subcontract out israel's defense to the united states or to anyone else. >> ifill: it seems in the few, what we've been seeing the rhetoric building in the last several weeks that there was never going to be a common ground. so it leaves one to believe israel is playing bad cop and the united states is playing good cop in this. >> i don't think these messages are actually particularly directed at tehran.
i think the israeli tletses are directed largely at washington and at the rest of the international community desperately doesn't want a war in the middle east. they're designed to harden the american position and to increase the pressure on iran. thereby. and i think they've succeeded to some degree in doing that. on the other hand, i think obama has pushed back hard and effectively on the question of timing he's made clear that an early military strike on iran whether from the united states or from israel is not in the american interest, not in the israeli interest. i think it will be hard for president netanyahu to go back and order such a strike in reaction to that. on the other hand, what netanyahu has received is a rather more explicit obama commitment to eventually take military action against iran if iran persists in pursuing nuclear weapons. >> ifill: jamie fly, the president told jeffrey goldberg last week, "i'm not bluffing '"or something to
that effect. he seemed to be saying that again today. is it as effective as jim to bebins seems to think to you? >> i think the administration's rhetoric especially with the president in the interview that he gave to jeff goldberg has been somewhat effective in clearing the waters a bit because his administration had not been consistent in its messaging about the military option but i think as jeff noted that this is unlikely to leave prime minister netanyahu and his government satisfied. the main reason is the president in his speech focused primarily on iran actually obtaining a nuclear weapon whereas i think the israelis are much more concerned and i think rightfully so about iran reaching the point where they have that capability and all the information is that iran is almost at that point. i think that's also the major difference that we're seeing coming out of these meetings. >> ifill: when you use terms like "loose talk of war," that does seem like it's stepping up some of the pushback. >> i disagree with the the
president on that because i don't think this is loose talk. i think even if the president believes there's the possibility of a negotiated solution-- and he certainly seemed to say that in the interview he did with jeff-- i think that the iranians need to understand that there is real pressure out there and there is the real possibility of a military option. unfortunately some of the president's top cabinet officials like secretary of defense panetta, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, they have not given off that indication in the last several weeks that this is a real viable military option. >> ifill: do you think there's a real viable military option? >> i think the president's talk about loose talk is directed more at his republican opponents than at the israeli prime minister. i don't think he regards what netanyahu is saying as particularly loose. i think he regards it as a credible threat and one that he wants to clearly signal is not consistent with american policies or views. personally, i think that as the president made clear that an attack on iran at this
stage would produce a more unified iranian public. it would validate certainly for the iranian public the necessity of achieving nuclear deterrence and for much of the rest of the world i think the sanctions regime would begin to loosen. i think that iran would begin to get potential assistance in its nuclear program which it's not getting now from countries like pakistan or china or russia. and i think that at best you'd get a temporary delay and perhaps an explicit acceleration of the program. >> ifill: when they talk about options on the table, the president says all options are on the table, what options is he realistically talking about? >> well, i do think that he believes that sanctions regime is working. it does seem to be working. you know, he hopes that those sanctions lead to the building of an off-ramp where the iranians can get off a nuclear path without losing face and
he is talking about, in my interview for the first time, he actually used the term "military component" to describe one of the options. obviously the final option. and, you know, i think... i do believe that he was obviously doing a lot of message to go a lot of different parties over the past week, domestic and international. i do think one of the strong messages he's trying to deliver right now is to iran. and he is saying to the supreme leader of iran, listen, take me seriously. i'm not kidding when i say that this is unacceptable to me. one of the most important things he's done, i think, in the last week is to expressly rule out containment. he is not in any way arguing that the u.s. could or wants to live with an iran with nuclear weapons. that is a fairly big development. so he's actually... he's obviously trying to attempt to
limit israel's options here, but he's also somewhat limited america's own options in this case. >> ifill: jamie fly, is there at its root some distrust between two old staunch allies? take iran out of it for a moment but there seems to be more disagreement than agreement than you normally would see? >> i think that's certainly the case. prime minister netanyahu is here to address the annual meeting of apac, and this has become almost an annual owe kerns where the prime minister of israel comes and there's always at least for the last several years in this confrontation between this government in israel and between this administration. for a variety of reasons related to differences over settle manys in the palestinian peace process, but i do think there is base distrust between this israeli government and this administration. >> ifill: did that encounter read like confrontation to you? >> this meeting was not as confrontational as a year ago and partly because of how the press availability was managed after the meeting.
but i do think the prime minister made very clear after their meetings that he still believes that as any israeli leader would that if he feels that israel's security is threatened he will need to take action and he noted that he thinks the president understands that as well. >> ifill: there are still meetings going on. i ask you this, jim to bebins with that full understanding, do you have a sense that an israeli unilateral attack on iran for the reasons we've discussed more or less likely after a meeting like today? >> i think it's somewhat less likely in the short term. i think, as i said, that the president pushed back pretty clearly. i don't think that the israeli prime minister would authorize such an attack if he believed that it would not ex post facto receive american support. i think obama is probably drawn that into question. i think it would be hard to do it over the explicit and firmly expressed advice of the american president.
so in the short term, i think it probably reduces the risk. but the effect will wear off in a few months. this is a meeting, you've said something events and other things will drive the process so it doesn't definitively exclude it. i'd say between now and the summer it's less likely than it was. >> ifill: jeff goldberg, how much of this tension that we see has to do with domestic politics in israel and domestic politics here? >> you know, one of the most interesting things in this interview i did with the president last week, he got most exercised when talking about his record on israel and the way that republicans, especially republican candidates for president are talking about it. he repeated this in his speech to apac. essentially saying, you know, giving a laund laundry list of things he's done for israel, all accurate, and saying at this point how could anyone possibly think that i'm anti-israel? this has a lot to do, obviously, with the upcoming
election. the president is not vulnerable on most foreign policy questions right now. he's obviously not vulnerable at all on questions of terrorism after the killing of bin laden. republicans believe that he is vulnerable on the iran question, that he's not tough enough on iran. that he's not friendly enough to israel. so if you notice, you know, in past years, the president would be speaking a great deal about the peace process, about the palestinians. he's not talking about that right now. he's talking about iran. he's talking, you know, according to an agenda laid in part by the prime minister as opposed to an agenda that he has set out. this has a lot to do with neutralizing an issue that the white house understands to be a possible vulnerability. >> ifill: jeff goldberg, amy fly, jim to bebins, thank you all very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour, ohio's pivotal role on super tuesday; putin's presidential reelection in russia; and the tornadoes that
ravaged the south and midwest. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the flow of syrian refugees into lebanon accelerated today. the u.n. refugee agency estimated as many as 2,000 syrians fled the region around homs over the weekend. amateur video showed smoke over homs today, as government forces unleashed a new bombardment. elsewhere, antigovernment protests were held in several cities denouncing the repression. meanwhile, the red cross and red crescent were allowed to deliver aid in parts of homs today. u.s. senator john mccain called today for air strikes against the syrian regime. the arizona republican was the first senator to advocate that step. he said president obama had taken too soft a stance. >> the united states should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in syria, especially in the north, through air strikes on assad's forces. the ultimate goal of air strikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in syria, especially in the
north. in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against assad. >> sreenivasan: the obama administration has pressed for the u.n. security council to demand an end to the violence in syria. so far, russia and china have blocked action. military officials reported at least 107 soldiers died in heavy fighting in the south over the weekend. they said more than 30 al qaeda fighters were killed as well. on sunday, the militants attacked army bases in abyan province. they seized weapons and turned them on government troops. the raids appeared to be aimed at a pledge by yemen's new president to fight the terror network. gunmen in western iraq killed 25 police today, in coordinated pre-dawn attacks. officials said the attackers wore military uniforms and used fake arrest warrants for police officials before killing them. they hit several sites in the former militant stronghold of haditha, and raised the al qaeda battle flag after one of the raids. emergency teams in the republic
of congo struggled today to contain fires in the capital, brazzaville. the fires broke out sunday after an arms depot blew up, killing at least 200 people. the blast flattened homes, businesses and churches and sent hundreds of injured to the hospital. the government blamed the explosion on a fire ignited by a short circuit. the u.s. does have the legal authority to carry out targeted killings against american citizens on foreign soil. attorney general eric holder laid out the justification today in a speech in chicago. it came five months after a u.s. drone killed anwar al-awlaki, an american-born cleric and al qaeda operative in yemen. holder argued such acts are covered by a congressional resolution adopted a week after 9/11. b.p. stock hit its highest level today in more than a year after word of a settlement in the gulf oil spill. the company announced friday that it expects to pay out at least $7.8 billion to compensate for lost wages, revenues, and property damage. b.p. also will pay medical costs related to environmental illness, and will monitor health
problems throughout the gulf area. as for the rest of wall street, the dow jones industrial average lost 14 points to close at 12,962. the nasdaq fell 25 points to close at 2950. conservative radio host rush limbaugh lost two more advertisers today after branding a law student a "slut." that made nine in all. limbaugh alsapologized again. he said he should not have talked that way about a woman who urged insurance coverage for birth control. but limbaugh went on to say, "rappers can say anything they want about women. it's called art, and they win awards." those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: and now to the presidential campaign, on the eve of 11 state primaries that make up this election year's super tuesday. kwame holman reports on where the g.o.p. candidates are, and what they're saying. >> reporter: for mitt romney today was about staying focused on one of tomorrow's biggest prizes: ohio. and on president obama and the
economy. >> this is a failed presidency. he's a nice guy. but he's over his head. >> reporter: romney did not mention his republican opponents by name but in canton, ohio, he said his background stands out. >> i understand why jobs come and why they go. other people in this race have debated about the economy. they've read about the economy. they've talked about it in sub committee meetings, but i've actually been in it. >> reporter: late polling has romney coming back in ohio to take a 34-31% lead over former pennsylvania senator rick santorum. the survey put former house speaker newt gingrich and texas congressman ron paul far behind. but at a town hall near dayton santorum urged ohio voters not to be swayed by those numbers. >> don't listen to the polls. don't listen to all the media hype and all the things about what this race is about. just focus in on whether we want a man who can stand up and paint a very different vision for this country, someone who has a principled
record, someone what is willing to go out and talk about all the issues that are confronting this country, all of the issues not just how we're going to manage the economy better. >> reporter: in addition to ohio, the republican rivals had nine other super tuesday states to think about. from the atlantic to alaska with more than 400 delegates at stake. newt gingrich was banking on georgia, the state he represented in congress, and today he campaigned in neighboring tennessee. >> it's an objective fact that governor romney's technique which is to outspend his opponents by five or six to one is impossible against barack obama. as the incumbent president he's going to have massively more money than any republican. and the way you have to beat him is to design a strategic campaign that sets up the debates and then prove in the debates that his advertising is irrelevant because he's just plain wrong. >> reporter: for his part ron paul held a series of campaign events in idaho today.
meanwhile romney won weekend endorsements from prominent representatives of two states: house majority leader eric cantor of virginia, and senator tom coburn of oklahoma. and romney picked up a victory in the washington state caucuses on saturday taking 38% of the vote. paul edged out santorum for second place. still a new nbc news wall street journal poll showed the potential difficulties for romney or any other republican who becomes the nominee. the survey released today showed president obama's approval rating had moved up to 50%, the highest it's been since the death of osama bin laden last may. >> woodruff: in wyoming republicans will start selecting delegates in party conventions starting tomorrow. in ohio, as you just heard, does look to be the closest contest, and one that symbolizes the battle for the heart of the republican party. i spent the end of last week on the ground in the buckeye state, talking to voters about what matters most to them in this election.
the sparks are flying at macgregor metal working in springfield, ohio, where workers are ramping up production on parts for top of the line health club exercise equipment. it's as good a sign as any that the economy around here is picking up. a family-owned manufacturers since 1965, macgregor laid off nearly 200 of its 450 worker s when the recession hit. but sales account manager and member of the founding family jamie macgregor says last year was its biggest ever, and this season is looking even busier. >> we've rebounded from 2008 and 2009 levels. and we're very happy with our backlog. i think that there's a little bit more confidence in the american consumer. >> woodruff: the work force is back up to 380 and employees
are putting in long hours to fulfill orders to general electric, john deere and life fitness. >> you know, grab one of these parts. >> woodruff: not far away in dayton at precision tool maker dysinger industries, the owner agrees business is turning around. after a decade-long struggle made worse by global competition, he is slowly adding jobs and building his work force back. >> we intend to add ten more yet this year. by the end of the year we'll be at 55, maybe pushing 60 employees. >> woodruff: how are you feeling right now about the economy and about your business and the need for what you make here? >> hopeful and cautiously optimistic. >> woodruff: both dysinger and macgregor say they expect to keep on hiring into 2013, but they harbor uncertainty about whether the economy's turn- around will continue. as republicans, they think what the next president does will be critical. >> i'm very concerned about
what's going on politically. i'm not sure what the economy is going to do. as we come through the election cycle. >> woodruff: in this state that president obama won in 2008 both mitt romney and rick santorum tell ohio audiences they would be better stewards of the economy in the future. >> you're going to have a choice in ohio about people running for president. first in our nomination process. do you want someone who spent his life in the private sector, who understands where jobs come from? or do you want someone who spent his career in washington? there are a couple of guys who spent their entire career in washington. you can vote for them. i just don't think we're going to beat barack obama and get our country back on track if we have guys whose resume looks like his resume. >> we can produce here in this country, we can compete in this country if we create a playing field that is level with the rest of the world. i'll put my faith in the american worker every single time and the american entrepreneur every single
time. ( applause ) >> woodruff: the economy has been issue-one here in ohio. but with little difference between the candidates on what to do about it, voters here are making decisions based on other factors. that has set off a furious contest between frontrunners romney and santorum. since no republican has ever won the white house without winning ohio in the general election, the primary here carries even more weight than other super tuesday states. recent polls show only half of ohio republican voters say they're satisfied with the current candidate. cedarville university political science professor mark caleb smith say he's struck by the lack of excitement for any one of them. >> i don't see santorum or romney or paul or gingrich generating a lot of intense enthusiasm. there's a lot of interest and a lot of desire to know what's going on but i think people are looking toward november because of their dissatisfaction with the candidates right now.
>> woodruff: ohio republican voters, smith says, are driven by a desire to defeat president obama in the fall. his description fits jamie macgregor, who wanted new jersey governor chris christie to run, cares most about tax reform and job growth, and made his current choice for practical reasons. >> mitt romney because of his electability. is attractive to me. we have to think bigger than just now. we need to think towards november. i think that there's serious risk with santorum and paul and gingrich up against obama. because i don't think that they have the cross appeal that we're going to need. >> woodruff: does that mean you've now settled on mitt romney? >> reluctantly, yes. >> woodruff: manufacturer dave dysinger is also dissatisfied with the g.o.p. field but came to a different conclusion. he voted early for gingrich saying he way not win but will
keep the pot stirred. he says he wants a president who can work with the other party and cut through the current gridlock in washington. >> to me that translates into political uncertainty. that political uncertainty is why i am concerned about investing in capital, capital equipment. >> woodruff: dysinger also worries about a critical shortage of highly skilled blue collar workers, workers like tool designer steve mylum. he says he wants to vote for someone he feels is authentic. for him that's likely to be rick santorum. >> romney to me is not... he doesn't seem like he's in touch with the middle class. he doesn't answer a lot of questions when it comes to the middle class or people who might be struggling. >> woodruff: it's a characterization the romney team bristles at. spokesman ryan williams. >> he's been around this country and seen people who are struggling, people who can't make ends meet because they don't have a job. it breaks his heart every time he has to see a family who
can't make ends meet because they can't find work. so he is committed in this campaign to improving our economy and providing the economic opportunity that working families will need to get back on their feet and get back in a steady job. >> woodruff: enthusiasm this primary season and in the general election will almost certainly come from ohio churches, like the vineyard community church in reynolds burg just east of columbus. here pastor dave dione has been barraged with questions from church members who say they want new national leadership on social issues. >> i think people are concerned with the decay of the morals in our society. they're hoping and trusting that maybe one of these politicians will represent them in our faith so they feel like there's a decay on issues that we consider very important, stuff like the pro-life issue or homosexuality, things of that nature. >> woodruff: 40% of ohio
republicans identify as evangelicals. and santorum hopes to capture some of their energy. his rally last thursday in ohio attracted a group of home schoolers from the area. one of whom was mother of six, kim davis. >> i came away with a feeling that this is an honest man. a man i can trust. a man who shares my faith. shares my values system. >> woodruff: but santorum's recent controversial comments about contraception, for example, have hurt him with other women voters. just two hours away in powell, ohio, an affluent columbus suburb, we founted mostly romney supporters, many who said they are uncomfortable with santorum's views. >> i am definitely a conservative woman but i have different opinions on social issues. homosexuality and gay marriage is one of them. i'm very much for gay marriage. so i tend to like candidates
that are more open minded on the social issues. i believe mitt is. >> woodruff: santorum supporter ohio attorney general mike dewine defends the former senator and insists his main focus is the economy. >> should not come as a shock to people that he is pro-life. but he's made it very clear, for example, in regard to birth control that, yes, he has his own views but he's not going to change what's going on in this country. >> woodruff: an argument the santorum team was working hard to get across to voters. since analysts agree after his loss to romney last week in another big state next door, michigan, it is santorum who is most in need of a win in ohio. >> ifill: next, vladimir putin's election victory gets mixed reviews at home and abroad. margaret warner has been covering the story for us from moscow.
>> warner: putin strode into his campaign headquarters after midnight buoyed by winning a third term as president and six more years as russia's preeminent leader. putin took a victory lap by satellite with managers and workers at a euro mountains met ats factory. amid thanks for their support he took shots at the protest movement that broke out after december's disputed parliamentary election. >> you put in our place those who dare to insult the working people. you showed what a real russian working man is. you showed that you are... they are good for nothing chatter boxes and it became the biggest present for me. >> warner: that present was celebrated tonight at a jubilant pro putin concert outside the kremlin gates. while a half mile away, passed a riot-ready contingent of
police and military, the opposition gathered at pushkin square to denounce putin's election. >> putin's victory is unfair. he could have won in a fairer fashion but he preferred to use fraud. that's why we do not accept his victory. >> warner: election authorities conceded today there may have been some irregulates. independent and opposition party monitors charged there were 3,000 or more. they sent tens of thousands of observers to the polls armed with smart phone apps. social media spread video showing buses allegedly ferrying voters to cast ballots in multiple locations. incited by activist blogger. >> we already have a lot of physical evidence of the falsifications. >> warner: given the 64% landslide the larger debate was over what voters were really saying and what putin would hear. in a village near moscow
yesterday a retired teacher lauded putin for providing stability and security. >> i voted for putin. i would like him to be even more of a strong man without any liberal compromises. >> warner: this art historian voted none of the above. >> we want to express our feeling that we are something and the government should hear our voice. >> warner: in moscow, this sales manager shows the billionaire who got only 7%, but mostly to send a zinger to putin. >> i votedor for him in order to let the authorities know that there are different opinions. >> warner: do you think he's going to listen to that message? >> i think he's a clever man. that's my own opinion, personal. so i think that if he does his homework, you know, he would
spend a little more time on real thinking about what people need. i believe in him. >> i think putin is a hard headed realist actually. i think the signals he got in the last two months, they matter. they have impressed him. >> warner: the newly elected chairman of parliament's international affairs committee believes putin will loosen his tight fisted control but the people who voted for and against him have something in common. >> they want a more democratic system. they want the authorities to listen more to the population. to the citizens of the country. ( applause ) >> reporter: putin takes office in may. the protestors vow to keep return to go the streets until their demands for more participation are met. >> ifill: geoffrey brown spoke with margaret a short while ago. >> brown: margaret, hello. things got quite a bit rougher
with riot police moving in to disperse the crowd and they arrested some opposition figures. what can you tell us? >> that's right, jeff. after we left pushkin square, this rally which had been allowed by the authorities from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. most people left but some people stayed on, and the authoritys made very clear either move out or you're going to be arrested. at some point around 10:00 they started moving in on them. arrested, it's estimated, some 250 of these activists including the prominent blogger anti-corruption blogger who was in our piece and we interviewed last week. he kept blogging from or tweeting rather from the pady wagon and the station. the most recent one which was just a few minutes ago said, well, they're going to fine me. i should be out in an hour or two. but clearly the russian government was sending a message that there are going to be some boundaries here on demonstrations. >> brown: you reported that a number of watchdog groups are raised questions about voting
abus. what does the opposition say about how hard it will push back on the question of the fairness of the election. >> warner: first of all they filed thousands of complaints. all of those are supposedly to be investigated. secondly they've told me because they had monitors in almost every polling place that got certificates actually of what the vote was at a particular, at the end of the day, that once the election commission comes out with their final, final results on i think it's friday, they're going to... the monitor will be able to compare the certificate he or she has with what the election commission says occurred. if there's a discrepancy, then you're going to hear a lot. so i think the question really for the opposition is, yes, they're going to keep that issue going but it's really what do they do next politically. >> brown: so that is the question. what does happen? what kind of presence do they seem themselves being now and on what issues? is any of that clear yet. >> warner: what they say is they want a really fundamental rewriting of the political rules of the road. and they want something that
is really outside what the constitution provides which is for putin to invite these liberal activist leaders into a dialogue, redraw the political rules to make it even easier to form political parties. putin and medvedev have already announced some changes in that regard. and then once that is done, actually hold new parliamentary elections not in december 2016 when they're scheduled but maybe in a year or two. >> brown: that goes to the big question for the opposition- everyone else. what of putin now that this election is behind him? does he rule with a lighter hand or crack down further? what's the early thinking there? >> warner: i'll tell you, jeff, that is the big unanswered question. for a figure who has been in public life as long as he has, he's really owe pack... opaque. he did send a message or at least the russian government did send a message. he did invite on the other hand all his rivals over to his residence today and talked
about investigating these fraud allegations. but the real question is, does he liberalize politically or does he continue treating them with the disdain that he did when they first started demonstrating back in december when he compared the white ribbons they wear to condoms? certainly the comments he made last night didn't seem to give them any quarter. i was in a very interesting dinner last week with some very senior well connected observers and writers in moscow. it was fascinating what a split of opinion there was about putin. some people said he's really flexible and think he'll do whatever it takes to get in power. he knows if his lee legitimacy is questioned it will undermine his authority. others said absolutely not. this is a man, a kgb intelligence officer obsessed with control. he only knows how to rule through fear or favor. he is incapable, temperamentally really of the give-and-take of politics. and nobody knows.
>> finally, margaret, what's been the u.s. reaction? you were expecting to have an interview with the u.s. ambassador tonight but i gather that was called off. >> warner: that's right. he was supposed to be standing right here next to me, jeff. it was called off by the white house. this is a very delicate situation because the reset the obama administration has worked with now president medvedev of the relationship really is in trouble because of the campaign, because of criticism by secretary clinton and others of the fairness of the december elections. putin took umbrage at that. he has responded by accusing the u.s. and in fact europe too of trying to... of criticizing the election process as a way of weakening russia. this is a serious situation as far as the obama administration is concerned because they have so many issues they want to continue to do... they need russian cooperation on. iran and north korea and moving troops in and out of after fan stan. so the administration is treading for gingerly here.
>> brown: margaret warner in moscow, thanks so much. >> warner: thank you, jeff. >> woodruff: to see all of margaret's reports from russia and links to additional coverage from our partners at public radio international's "the world," visit our web site at newshour.pbs.org. we'll be back shortly with an update on last week's wave of destructive tornadoes. but first, this is pledge week on pbs. this break allows your public television station to ask for your support, and that support helps keep programs like ours on the air. >> ifill: for those stations not taking a pledge break, we turn now to an encore report about doctor hans rosling, who
extreme tornado outbreak in the midwest and south. snow and cold hampered recovery and cleanup efforts today. hari sreenivasan has the story. our colleagues at wtiu in bloomington, indiana, contributed to this report. >> reporter: the snow fell overnight in henryville, indiana, leaving a blanket of white over the tornado wreckage of homes and cars and
adding new misery to what's left of the town of 2,000 people. wanda was one of the survivors. >> it has hindered it quite a bit because there are lots of people who still need tarps on their roof. of course you can't get on the roof to do that. it's too dangerous. hopefully the sun is coming out now. i've already seen a lot of the snow starting to melt. hopefully through the, you know, through the day that maybe they'll be able to get more things done. we just continue to, you know, pick things up. make sure that everybody has their most urgent needs met, make sure if we can get electric and water and those kinds of basics supplies to people so that they can stay in their houses because some people are not going to leave their homes. >> the tornado that hit henryville on friday was the worst of a deadly day whipping into the towns with winds of 175 miles an hour. >> get back. there it is. coming over the hill. mom, do we need to jump in the car? >> yes, jump in the car. >> go, go on.
get out. get out. (sirens) >> oh, my god! >> reporter: the storm system caught an across parts of indiana, kentucky and ohio nearly wiping out the towns of hen henryville and maryville and west liberty in kentucky. 39 people died in the onslaught across five states. in indiana 15 month old angel babcock had had seemingly been a miracle survival. she was found clinging to life in a field behind her home after the storm that took the lives of both her parents and two siblings. but overnight her condition deteriorated and she was taken off life support. in all the national weather service confirmed 51 tornadoes across 11 states on friday and into early saturday. from the great lakes spreading south of the gulf coast and as far east as georgia and the carolinas. at one point as many as four million people were within 25 miles of a tornado. the widespread devastation
meant a huge clean-up job. whether it was using bulldozers to clear cars and vans or trying to restore power. utility crews worked through the weekend. about 2700 customers remained in the dark in indiana, down from a peak of 8,000. a drive-through henryville today showed the scope of destruction with block after block leveled. people began returning over the weekend to pick through the rubble. >> i am so glad that everyone is okay. glad not only my family is okay but other people's families are okay. i'm so sorry for the ones who lost family members and everyone else who lost their home. >> reporter: indiana's governor toured the stricken towns praising the resell yens he saw. >> as always when things are at their worst the people in this state are at their best. >> reporter: and other states as well. supplies and donations from around the country poured in over the weekend. volunteers from denver unloaded fresh drinking water and other supplies. >> it doesn't really matter
what it is, we will do as much as we can to help out. >> reporter: much of the aid went to hundreds of people now living in shelters. >> the tornado took it all away from us. >> you think that the world is not necessarily a good place to live. and then you find out it still is. >> reporter: in kentucky, virtually every structure in the town of west liberty was gone. on main street, almost every building had to be condemned. the town hall, bank, courthouse and police station. most of the residents there were in shelters as well. and as in henryville, survivors in west liberty were helping each other start over again. >> we're so helpless. we have to do something. >> reporter: despite all the devastation a story of hope emerged from north carolina. three children who survived being sucked from their beds by a tornado early on saturday, were released from a charlotte hospital on sunday. >> they looked at them and believe it. called them miracle babies. >> reporter: forecasters blame the unusually early outbreaks of tornadoes in part on an
especially warm winter. the national weather service said preliminary estimates suggest friday's wave of storms could become the largest outbreak on record for the month of march. >> ifill: again, the other major developments of the day. israeli prime minister netanyahu met with president obama amid growing tension over nuclear enrichment in iran. the republican presidential hopefuls campaigned far and wide on the eve of super tuesday, when 11 states vote. and 20,000 russians rallied in moscow against vladimir putin's presidential election win. police used force to bar protesters from occupying a central square. >> woodruff: we have much more coverage on our politics page looking ahead to super tuesday. on the political checklist, gwen and i speak with political editor christina bellantoni
about the types of republican voters that mitt romney and rick santorum are courting in ohio. viewers' guide to our special viewers' guide to our special super tuesday coverage, on air and online. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >. i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us.
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